The mountain gazelle – found in Israel, Golan Heights, Turkey and across the Arabian Peninsula – is now endangered. Or at least it should be, according to scientists who counted just 2,000 of the species after a drastic drop over the last 15 years.
Zoologists are recommending that this iconic mammal of the Middle East should be placed on the endangered list for protection. They fear that the tan, white and black gazelles could end up extinct like their closest relatives who once lived in Egypt and Syria.
The main causes of the decline in gazelle numbers are habitat loss, predators and car collisions. The Society for Protection of Nature in Israel said:
“The damage to the gazelle population stems from the chopping up of their habitats due to construction, paving of roads and erection of fences. They are also impacted by increased predation due to poor sanitation that facilitates growth in the number of predators and feral dogs. Animals are also killed by hunters and cars. It is therefore vital to maintain contiguous open areas and ecological corridors, especially in gazelle habitats. Unnecessary development in these areas should be avoided.”
This specific gazelle species is significant because it is thought to be unique to Israel and a few surrounding countries. According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the gazelle population in Israel declined from over 10,000 to just 3,000 in 2008 alone, a rapid decline that seems to be persistent. Moreover, only 200 of the gazelles are left in Turkey, leaving the population in Israel as the last significant one.
After the latest count, the IUCN reevaluated the gazelle, changing its status from “vulnerable” to “endangered.”